My 87-yr-old mom's pacemaker has a battery that is wearing out in approx. six months. She has had dementia for 7 years, and can't remember my name, but remembers I'm her oldest daughter and can hold her own in a conversation, complete with good advice. Both her primary Dr and the senior nurse at her ALF say any operation with anesthesia will cause her to lose a lot of cognitive memory and that it won't be recovered after the operation. Her pacemaker is used about one-third of the time, says her cardiologist, meaning her heart isn't totally dependent on the pacemaker.
My quandary: She's told me for years (long before her dementia really kicked in) that she felt she has lived too long. She has a living will. She has a DNR. She's not depressed - she's a very cheery person and is usually pretty happy, with a good sense of humor. But I'm concerned about doing anything to speed up her cognitive decline. I know doctors can keep people alive for a long time, but should they? Where does quality of life fit in? I'm my mother's POA and healthcare surrogate. My sibs have not helped with her care other than to visit her occasionally (well, 2 of the 3 have and they live very far away; the 3rd who lives 2 hrs away hasn't visited in almost 4 years). I haven't talked with them about this.